Pot group opts out of enlisting Tommy Chong for lobby fight
The national trade association for marijuana wants to keep “Cheech and Chong” out of the fight for legalized weed on Capitol Hill.
In an email to Tommy Chong’s representative and supporter obtained by The Hill, Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) said the group “is here to break 'stoner' stereotypes rather than reinforce them and Tommy's character (very brilliantly) embodies that stereotype."
As a result, NCIA has decided not sign the actor and marijuana activist as the group's celebrity advocate for it’s legislative push known as Lobby Days, scheduled for the end of April.
“We decided that a celebrity presence would ultimately distract from the overall mission, which is for members of Congress and their staffs to meet some of the thousands of small business owners who make up the legal cannabis industry,” NCIA Spokeswoman Taylor West said in an email Tuesday. “When a celebrity joins in, even with the best of intentions, it unfortunately pulls the attention away from the broader membership and our message that these are everyday businesspeople who deserve to be treated fairly.”
West went on to say that NCIA has the “utmost respect” for Chong’s long history as a marijuana advocate.
“Ultimately, our goal with Lobby Days is to shine a light on our overall membership, whose work to build a responsible industry often doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and give them a chance to have their stories heard on Capitol Hill,” she said.
Peter O’Neil, CEO of the C and C Cannabis Co. in Seattle, said the company has pulled its membership from NCIA over the decision to drop Chong.
O’Neil said he thinks Smith sold the D.C. media and elected officials short.
“They understand that Tommy is an entertainer who has also been an advocate for cannabis for over 30+ years,” he said. “If his presence gets more folks to start the conversation about making cannabis legal at the federal level, creating a new green industry that creates jobs and tax dollars then that is great.”
In his email, Smith said he’s concerned about advertisement on youtube that never aired, which shows Chong smoking while driving and nodding off at the wheel.
“This sort of message is exactly the opposite of what we are trying to do with our efforts to legitimize the industry by showing it in a positive and responsible light,” Smith wrote. “Further, promotional advertising like this is actually a violation of our member code of conduct.”
In an email, Chong’s representative Jon-Paul Cowen, of Chong & Chong Entertainment, said “there are no issues on this end and we all still share many of the same goals with NCIA.”
“We were invited to participate in Lobby Days by one of NCIA’s members who apparently did not vet it with his superiors,” he said. “For our part, we were simply going there to show our support as we all want legalization to happen in 2016. “
'Poisoned pot' Easter cakes: Norwegian students arrested for flooding school with marijuana
Two Norwegian teenagers have been arrested for bringing Easter cakes with massive doses of marijuana inside to school. Three teachers suffered from food poisoning and sought medical help.
The “joke” was revealed when several teachers and other employees of Lier Upper Secondary School experienced symptoms of a mysterious illness and found themselves having difficulty remaining on their feet, local media reported.
“They felt ill. They were dizzy and felt totally out of it. They were basically bedridden,” head of the local police Arne Lauvålien told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK on Thursday.
Nobody suspected the bakers until three teachers were taken to the hospital where blood tests revealed they were sickened by large doses of cannabis. At that point, suspicion fell on the Easter cakes.
“When we began to unravel it, it became clear quite rapidly which of the cakes it had been. The school knew who had baked the special cake, so we were on the trail of the cake bakers relatively early,” The Local quoted Lauvålien as saying.
The students who brought the cake to school to share with their class were arrested the next day after the incident and charged with possession of marijuana. Both teens admitted to filling the cakes with cannabis.
Lauvålien’s colleague Finn Håvard Aas told VG newspaper that they may face even more serious charges of poisoning.
Police questioned the students to find out where they had got the marijuana and what inspired them to drug their teachers and classmates.
“What we have here is someone who has not thought about the consequences,” Lauvålien said. “The teachers have actually been poisoned.”
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